This Week in the Mercury

Deep Cuts

Theater

Deep Cuts

Blood, Guts, and Top 40 in The Maids' Tragedy


An <i>Unbroken</i> Story...

Film

An Unbroken Story...

And Angelina Jolie's Sticking to It



Friday, June 14, 2013

Street Count Shows Spike in Portland's Homeless Population

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Fri, Jun 14, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Screen_shot_2013-06-14_at_12.41.24_PM.png
Two years ago, in the waning months of a terrible recession, Portland and Multnomah County released a snapshot count of the region's homeless population that's been cited as gospel by politicians and service providers and advocates ever since—revealing some 1,700 people living on the streets, with hundreds more in transitional housing or emergency shelters.

It was dispiriting news. But it also held the promise that things might improve the further we moved from the economic implosion that ended the last decade. But the update of that report, released today by the Portland Housing Bureau and Multnomah County Board of Commissioners, also bears some sour fruit.

The number of people living without shelter in the region, according to a one-day count January 30, has climbed to 1,895—close to a 10 percent increase. And that's just a glimpse at the overall problem.

An additional 2,546 people were listed as sleeping in shelters or in transitional housing. Thousands more, based on rough estimates, are doubling up with other families, cycling in an and out of shelter, or sleeping on someone's couch. (Close to 400 others were initially tallied but declined to give identifying information—keeping them out of the official count.)

And it's only thanks to millions in federal, state, and local funding (though federal funding is dropping precipitously) that the number isn't even higher.

"The count also documented 4,832 people who received rent assistance or permanent supportive housing on the night of the count who would most likely have been homeless without that support," the report says.

The report throws several details in stark relief—including looks at where people came from, how long they've been here, persistent racial disparities, and whether they're in families or alone. More people in families (72), compared to 2011, were found living on the streets or in shelters. More women showed up in the count. Also, says the report, "the number of people of color who are unsheltered was 38 percent higher in 2013 than in 2011."

Screen_shot_2013-06-14_at_1.04.21_PM.png
It comes weeks after another city/county report found 56 deaths on the street last year, all of them preventable. It also comes months after the city and county agreed to "reset" their plan to end homelessness, focusing more efforts on families and veterans and people of color while pledging to better commingle government resources.

As to why there's been an increase? The report points to persistently high long-term unemployment and continued economic malaise—almost half of those counted became homeless within the past year. The city also lost 75 shelter beds in the past two years.

But, most strikingly, the report looks at the region's historically low rental vacancy rate, 3.4 percent. Low vacancy means landlords can charge more than ever for rental space. High rent makes it difficult for families or people on the edge to stay housed, especially if they suffer some kind of costly surprise, like a medical emergency. High rent, and high competition, also throw up a steep barrier for people looking to move into permanent housing.

It's a 44-page report with several appendices. Hit the jump for just a taste of the wealth of charts it offers.

Screen_shot_2013-06-14_at_12.43.33_PM.png

Screen_shot_2013-06-14_at_1.04.07_PM.png

Screen_shot_2013-06-14_at_1.05.51_PM.png

Screen_shot_2013-06-14_at_1.07.48_PM.png

Respondents who were homeless when they came to Portland/Multnomah County were asked why they came here. It should be noted that only 216 respondents answered this question, so the responses may not be representative of the entire population of unsheltered persons. The question included several multiple choice options as well as “other.” Respondents were asked to check all of the answer choices that applied, and most respondents selected multiple answers. The most frequently selected answer choice was “family/ friends.” This was closely followed by “other” and “access to services and resources”, and then “job opportunities” and “like it here/good weather.” Among those who selected “other”, the most frequent responses were “traveling” and “passing through.” Other common responses included “from here originally”, “escaping domestic violence”, “escaping abuse”, “school”, and “wanting to start over.”

Screen_shot_2013-06-14_at_1.08.35_PM.png

Screen_shot_2013-06-14_at_1.37.27_PM.png

Screen_shot_2013-06-14_at_1.40.36_PM.png

Comments (0)

Subscribe to this thread:

Comments are closed.

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC

115 SW Ash St. Suite 600
Portland, OR 97204

Contact Info | Privacy Policy | Production Guidelines | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy